Thursday, November 1, 2012
But as power and internet begin to come back on-line for some, and if you find yourself taking a break from clean up activities and volunteer efforts, one of the top 10 is now available for your viewing pleasure. Check out Divide!
Saturday, October 27, 2012
The east coast is preparing for two simultaneous storms: Sandy racing up the coast and the Election of 2012. With the potential of being home-bound for a day, here’s some great docs on voting to check out.
10. Watch Shola Lynch’s 2005 film Chisholm 72: Unbought and Unbossed, a profile of the first black woman to run for president, and prepare to get inspired to act.film link
5. While Hot Coffee by Susan Saldoff is not explicitly a voting doc, this film makes the import of small ballot issues clear. Here we see how corporations pour money into campaigns against judges that threaten their greed. Specifically, we see the case driven by Karl Rove and friends to unseat Mississippi state court judge Oliver Diaz, a judge who objected to tort reform that harms consumers. link
2.Electoral Dysfunction has just begun its theatrical run, yet there are already ample opportunities to see this comedic expose on our highly dysfunctional electoral college system this coming week on PBS. If you can’t get your eyes on the feature, the ED team packaged three nuggets that streamed on The New York Times online this month, a DVD on PBS, and book available on iTunes. film PBS NYT
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The students who conducted the interview also asked about other topics, like suitable subjects for your first film. Considering I just posted BeauteouS: Stephanie online for free, this is quite timely:
Other interview clips pertain more to specific considerations in making documentary, like the ethics of editing documentary: and the ethics of working with participants (and check out this great paper Honest Truths by Mridu Chandra, Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi for more on documentary ethics):
Here's my two cents on the importance of research in documentary:
and some closing advice for student filmmakers - treat your participants with respect!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Though I keep churning out films, largely on my own dime, and enjoy screenings at film festivals and invited talks at colleges, I always have a nagging feeling that my films reach few people beyond the converted (i.e. queers, feminists, indie enthusiasts). How many people have seen my early short films? Perhaps 10,000 total? Why can't it be more?
Admittedly, I've had this imagined future for my films; people buy them regularly, they are re-released on DVD, picked up for collections on feminist filmmaking and the like. But the reality is, eleven years after BeauteouS: Stephanie was released, that hasn't happened. The older works might screen once a year and a kind friend might offer to buy a DVD now and then. But largely, the DVDs sit on my shelf and the films remain unwatched.
In this era of "put it online" there is an expectation that artists should post their work for free. I've struggled with this idea for years, actively pulling down copies of my films available from bit torrent sites when alerts pop up in the email inbox. I've whined, "I just wanted to break even on these films, not even make a profit!" The idea of putting it online signaled an end to that possibility.
But as the years tick by and the DVDs sit on the shelf, I realize no matter how much people want to see the film (thousands of such comments over the years) and how cheap they are ($30 for 4 movies) and how available I make them (pay pay button on a website) they remain unsold. Then I saw this brilliant film on Vimeo, up for the masses to enjoy (and 29,000 have) and I've reconsidered the whole thing. I'm the only one holding these films back and it's fine time to let that go. These films got me to a place where I could land teaching jobs, raise funds for Period and slowly, maybe in the course of 20 years through a great relationship with my distributor, break even on that film. BeauteouS has screened at over 100 film festivals around the world in 15 different countries. The fact that it didn't sell is just fine. It did something despite its imperfections. And for that, I'm proud.
And so, I let go of BeauteouS and BeauteouS: Stephanie today, posting them on Vimeo. I'm holding onto two others, because they are very personal (i.e. I'm naked and on fire in one) Maybe, once more security comes, I'll release those films. But for now, if you want to see it, for fucks sake - buy it!
Friday, April 29, 2011
During eleven years of teaching at a range of colleges and universities and learning environments, many of the 1700 students I've taught have met the challenge posed: create something thoughtful, ethical, and engaging. Here are a few standouts that have, in this era of self-publishing online, succeed in their own right.
This year, student David Moldover joined the Advanced Video class at Marymount Manhattan College. Despite having no formal video classes under his belt, Moldover had experience in working with documentary post-production and research. He engaged in extra lessons every week to get his skills in lighting, editing and cinematography up to speed. More importantly, as a stellar Humanities major, Molodver knows how to connect disparate sociocultural elements and construct an argument, which he does exceptionally well with his film "Guilty Bystanders". This film was chosen to screen at Honors Day at MMC and was awarded Honorable Mention- Dean's Award. It then won Best Documentary Film at the Communication Arts Showcase this Spring 2011. Here is a 7 minute excerpt of the longer piece:
Elizabeth Rocklin (Marymount 2011) is a video maker who focuses on disability and activism. Her work crosses genre well and in documentary or in a narrative PSA, she has succeeded in partnering with organizations beyond the college walls. The first piece showcased here is a short documentary made in partnership with Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts that lives on the homepage of their website:
An award winning PSA that Rocklin also produced takes a critical view of empty gestures toward inclusiveness. This video won Best PSA in 2010 at Marymount Manhattan College's Communication Arts Showcase:
That year, Maria Habib (Marymount 2011) also won an award - Honorable Mention - for her PSA on human trafficking. In this piece, Habib's camera takes on the first person perspective of a woman being lured into sex work. To construct this story, Habib interviewed a woman (anonymously) who had been tempted by a trafficker's charms in a similar fashion. The material in the thought bubble falls under the Center for Social Media's Code for Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video:
Fair Use is a theme in many of my classes. It is essential that video artists learn how to legally rework the media around us. This year, The Center for Social Media recognized the work of two students from Intermediate Video at MMC, Stuart Kiczek and Billy Shields, for their employment of Best Practices for Fair Use in this brilliant online video on water. By clicking on the image below, you will be redirected to the CSM site where the video lives:
Another group of Marymount filmmakers in the class Web Video Activism produced a video in partnership with a local organization, Network for Peace Through Dialogue. This video highlights the youth program and was shown to 100 young students at an event in 2010 on youth dialoging for peace. The group included students Nicole Henry, Nicole Banner, Ryan Johnston and Lauren Kozlowski:
One of the most successful activist student videos made in any one of my classes is this PSA by Dana Corl. During our Intermediate Video class in Fall 2009, Corl completed the video and facebooked about it. Her friends started spreading it around. I encouraged her to email the activists at Hollaback!, a site dedicated to ending street harassment. They blogged about Corl's PSA on their page. Within 30 minutes, her video had 200 views...and growing (at 10,000 now):
In Spring 2008, a group of students at American University produced the website Tune in HPV in a class called Communication and Social Change. The site, designed by students and built by Zulma Aguiar, lives on. The stories were submitted anonymously by readers interested in sharing their experiences about human papillomavirus. The students and I then made videos engaging the stories with messages about safe sex. Some of the standout videos are these, which I wrote about in a chapter in the book Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and Medicine's Simple Solutions (2010, Johns Hopkins University Press).
The comments on Jennifer Derosa's HPV Dykes demonstrate how radical work challenges the viewer:
Vanessa Bradchulis made a series of videos for the Tune in HPV site. By creating a cast of characters who fail to avoid obvious risks, Bradchulis hoped that people would see the clear connection between avoiding risk through safer sex. Videos include Hand on a Hot Burner, Electric Bath, Running With Scissors, Cycling Blindfolded and this vid:
I could continue highlighting exceptional student work, but I'll save it for another post at sometime in the future. However, I'll end with this standout from Mathew O. Brady. Brady, who graduated in 2010, continues to make work with a clear vision, demonstrating his deftness and cinematic voice. In Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced video at MMC, Brady produced a series of films that connect through themes of friendship and the creative spirit. Recently, Brady collaborated with Gaelan Conell on a feature film that they co-wrote and directed, I Am Ben which will surely enjoy screenings in the coming year. This short, which they made in the Spring of 2010 for the Tisch 48 hour film challenge, highlights their collaborative energy and creativity (oh - and they won that competition with it!) This was not made in relationship to any of my classes, but I showcase it here as what happens beyond the classroom as students turn lessons into craft:
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Francois Ozon is my favorite director. Bar none. I admire how he deftly glides across genre, nodding to queer directors of yore through devoted homage, while his strong female characters and gay male leads find love in themselves as to find it in each other. Though he may not call himself a feminist director, Ozon’s work, especially prior to Potiche, is undoubtedly feminist. His female characters (save for the vagabond in the early See the Sea) are complex but likeable. They confront gendered realities through an intellect and honesty that typically surpasses the straight men around them.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Last Summer, across the blogosphere, there was much buzzing about images of Dakota Fanning with blood running down her thighs and a blood stain on the back of her skirt. Were these shots, clearly from the set of a film, menstrual markings or the next era of horror movie misogyny? The answer can be seen in the newly released film The Runaways, a drama about a 1970's all girl rock band fronted by Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning) and guitarist, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart.)
Here, menstruation is a framing element, as the film begins with a screen sized image of a red blood drop falling to the pavement. Cut to Fanning wiping blood from her thigh in disbelief. Her sister, Marie rushes her to the bathroom to attend to their first period, for Marie whines "Everything happens to you first!" Cherie packs her undies with paper towels, ties a sweatshirt around the stain, and in stunned disbelief of what has just transpired, tags behind her sister and her sister's creepy dude date. He leers at her, "You're a woman now."
Later that evening, Cherie crops her hair, paints a David Bowie red streak across her face, and comes into herself. Becoming a woman in this film, does not include being soft and desirable for boys. Rather, menarche signifies entrance into glam rock iconography.As Cherie meets up with Joan Jett, and the two launch The Runaways, Cherie's early entrance into womanhood seems to have come too soon. Still a child, Cherie is pushed into the front of a stage and asked to groan into a mic about her bursting sexuality in the song Cherry Bomb. The demanding manager, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), commands her to give more to the song. "This isn't woman's lib. It's woman's lib-ido."
In the coming weeks on tour, Cherie will partake in her first kiss, first sip of alcohol, first pill, first line - revealing how womanhood has not "dropped" upon her. It arrives in waves, through her choices (or her inability to make them.) And there is still more growing to do.